Change and Stuff.
Have you ever noticed how change, even good change, can bring our "stuff" up? The blessed wedding brings a family to the brink of falling apart, the move to an exciting new city triggers an existential crisis, the building of the new house brings weeping and gnashing of teeth. -Even a new haircut can suddenly cause a seismic shift in one's self-identity (cue scene of Julia Roberts as Shelby in Steel Magnolias, touching her newly-short hair and whimpering "Oh...gosh...").
I made a big change recently. Over the last year or so, my side counseling practice (I called it my "very private practice", because I had to keep it small while having a job) started to grow. And then grow some more. As I considered going into full-time private practice, I started to feel a "zing" of excitement I typically only feel when I'm on airplane to a far off place. The thing is, I had a wonderful job. The meaningful nature of the work hadn't diminished; I find it an incredible privilege to hear people's stories and share their journey towards growth. However, I realized I couldn't follow the exciting rabbit trail of this new adventure while keeping one foot in my old comfort zone. So I leapt.
I was happily decorating my new office (which I love! Video tour to come soon!), and fielding calls from new clients, when suddenly, my Stuff came up. Those questions like, "Who am I to do this work?", "Why do I do this again?", and the worst, "What if I'm actually terrible at this, and nobody wants to tell me?" It was my fear of having a Shelby-post-haircut type of moment, staring catatonically with regret. Oh...gosh. (Where is Dolly Parton to encourage me when I need her?)
I was alternating between trying to remember what I tell clients who have these thoughts, and avoiding thinking by staying busy. I went to my old office to pack some things up, when something wonderful happened. I unlocked an old file-cabinet to sort the contents, when I came across a collection of old client files. As I browsed through them, I smiled as I remembered the faces of people I had worked with, their difficult moments of struggle, the awkward moments when I didn't know what to say, and the moments when, just after the client left the room, I exclaimed "Shazam!" and did a little dance of joy to celebrate the "aha"-moment of healing/breakthrough they had just had. I remembered why I love to be a counselor: it's fun. Yes, fun. It's vibrant, meaningful, creative work. Even when it's hard, it's a joy to witness someone's growth, to be present with them while they work through their own Stuff. It's soul work. It's fun.
Even as I write this post, I can see that I just got a contact from a new client. I feel a little zing of excitement, wondering what their story will be, and what part I'll get to have in that story; aware that it probably took a lot of courage for them to make that first call; and saying a little prayer of gratitude, that the phone is ringing, and that the adventure is continuing. Shazam!